August 16, 2023

Sitrep for Aug. 15–16, 2023 (as of 8:30 a.m.)

Frontline Situation Update

Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense, has officially confirmed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have successfully recaptured the village of Urozhaine.

The AFU continue to solidify their positions around the northwestern outskirts of Robotyne, and are advancing towards the village center. Recent footage has emerged showing Russian strikes on Ukrainian positions in that area.

Additionally, a video has surfaced showing a Stryker armored personnel carrier getting hit by a Lancet loitering munition. This marks the first visual evidence of this vehicle being on the frontline, signifying the presence of the 82nd Airborne Brigade close to Robotyne. Furthermore, pro-Russian sources report that a Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicle, also in service with the 82nd Brigade, was destroyed. However, the only evidence presented was a drone photo of an undamaged vehicle.

According to Serhii Cherevatyi, Ukraine’s Operational Command East spokesman, AFU reserves have been dispatched to the Lyman-Kupiansk direction. General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, personally visited the frontline positions and ordered the construction of multi-tiered defenses.

In the south of the Kherson region, not far from Armyansk, Ukrainian forces hit a 9A83 TELAR vehicle, a 9A84 LLV as well as two ground surveillance radars of a Russian 9K81 S-300V [SA-12 Gladiator] SAM system with HIMARS MLRS strikes. Since there are about 75 km from the site to the AFU-controlled right bank of the Dnipro, HIMARS MLRS had to fire GMLRS rockets almost at their maximum range as bringing the launchers close to the Dnipro would have probably been too dangerous. Ukrainian UAVs tracked the S-300V SAM system vehicles regularly changing positions and filmed the aftermath of the strikes. As neither the UAVs nor GMLRS rockets were intercepted, one can conclude that the Russian air defense in this rear area was either inactive or absolutely incapable of protecting the airspace.

This incident, as well as the lack of confirmed strikes on HIMARS MLRS by the RuAF, clearly demonstrates the contrast between Russian officials’ statements and reality: on Aug. 15 Russia’s Ministry of Defense Sergei Shoigu stated at the Moscow Conference on International Security that “there is nothing unique and invulnerable to Russian weapons on the battlefield today. In many cases, even Soviet-made equipment surpasses Western models in combat capabilities.”

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

According to updated data, 19 people received mostly minor injuries as a result of the attack on Lviv on Aug. 15.

Residents of Dnipro posted a video showing four cruise missile strikes reportedly on the Southern Machine-Building Plant. Local sources report a total of eight strikes.

The village of Novaya Tavolzhanka of the Belgorod region, located directly on the border of Russia and Ukraine, once again was hit: one person was killed, another was injured.

On the same day, villagers recorded a video address to President Putin complaining that despite constant strikes, the state of emergency was not declared in the area, which allows the authorities to avoid compensating residents for destroyed homes and relocating them away from the frontline. Meanwhile, the management of the construction company, responsible for the restoration of houses, were arrested for embezzling budgetary funds.

Former convict Vyacheslav Samoylov, who was wounded three months after signing a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense, has returned to the Arkhangelsk region. He has now received a pardon instead of punishment for the murder of his girlfriend Olga Shlyamina, whose body he dismembered and attempted to hide in the forest (in 2022, he was sentenced to nine years in a maximum security penal colony).

Despite the lack of confirmed civilian casualties during the shootout in Urzuf near Mariupol, some details have emerged: the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, citing its sources, reported that the incident was caused by a conflict between military personnel from the North Caucasus regions and former convicts assigned to Chechen units, who were sent to the rear for rest. (During the incident, a military policeman from Russia's constituentRepublic of Dagestan, Sadrutdin Akaev, opened fire with his assault rifle, killing his offender, and was subsequently killed.)

Western Assistance

Sweden is preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine worth over 300 million dollars. It will include ammunition, spare parts for CV90 infantry fighting vehicles and Archer self-propelled howitzers (which we have not seen in Ukraine yet), as well as trucks and mine-clearing equipment.

At the Army-2023 exhibition, held in the Patriot Park near Moscow, Chinese Sunflower-200 loitering munitions were presented. They are very similar to Iranian Shahed-136 (Geran-2) loitering munitions and match them in terms of technical characteristics (flight range 2000 km, speed 160-220 km/h, payload 40 kg). This Chinese display, at the Russian arms exhibition, is worth highlighting, as China has all the necessary production components, making it almost impossible to influence their production of UAVs with sanctions. We do not rule out that these drones may be imported to Russia.

A video of a British Challenger 2 tank on the Zaporizhzhia axis has emerged. It is modified with an improvised cope cage—a makeshift protection against loitering munition, however, it apparently lacks blocks of explosive reactive armor.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has published a video of marines boarding the Palau-flagged Sukru Okan bulk cargo ship on Aug. 13. It is obvious from the video that the English proficiency of Russian soldiers is close to zero, which, in our opinion, makes it difficult for them to inspect foreign vessels.

Iryna Vereshchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, has said that Ukrainians should be prepared for a long war and a difficult path to victory. We agree with her assessment that the war will probably not end by next spring, or possibly the following year. However, much depends on weapon deliveries. In the near future, Ukraine should prepare for winter and possible problems with electricity and heating due to renewed attacks on energy infrastructure.

Ilya Yashin's [a Russian opposition politician] YouTube channel has released a new video by political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann who is analyzing several possible long-term scenarios for the future of Russia.